Written by: Corey Bonanno, Special to CC2K
25 years ago, Konami gave birth to a dark and haunting title known in the United States as Castlevania. The iconic Belmont family, a family ofvampire hunters and religious fanatics took you through all the undeadswashbuckling, vampire staking, and skeleton whipping tales of deceit, power,and anime speech boxes. Things were good, but things have changed.
A fan-favorite reboot always gets the massessalivating. “What can thisnext-gen of consoles do for our beloved game?” they’ll ask. In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, you’llfind a completely re-imagined take on the way the game is played andexperienced, breaking away from almost all the mechanics that created theundying love for the Belmont histories.
Themost obvious, new, and exciting change is that the world is now created withbeautiful environments and stunning graphics. It really gets you pumped to take the concept and lore youknow, and watch a whole new chapter unfold with all the unique, dark, andbeautiful set pieces and backdrops. There are moments when you’ll cross vast expanses with the camera slowly zooming out to reveal the true scale of the trials that lie ahead. It’s impressive.
A new, but not original, addition is the Assassin Creed style wall scaling, which makes puzzles out of the set pieces around you. While this style growsextremely repetitive, and at times is obnoxious, it helps bring you into your surroundings to really appreciate the developers’ work on each level. A major downside is the lack of manual camera control, which wouldn’t allow me the freedom I wanted to really survey the area. The levels are very linear,but for good reason: there is much to go back for in each level after you’ve been upgraded and put in the twenty or so hours the story takes. If the levels were left open, thenarrative wouldn’t move forward with the pacing and urgency the story drives toward.
Gameplay, is nothing you haven’t played before. It might piss off the fans, but the controls and gameplay are God of War in every sense of it, but it’s not Konami’s fault. Sadly, this is now considered the only way to build action/adventure games in today’s AAA market. This game was released too late to be considered original; had it come out last fall, it wouldn’t have been overshadowed by its predecessors. Even worse are the overwhelming amountof quicktime events, more than anyone should ever have to play through. Even on the easiest of pawns may have two quicktime events for that one grapple move, ridiculous. While it makes the action look glorious, its sucks me right out of the experience and control desired.
The biggest issue with the NPC’s is how fighting a werewolf, next to a troll, next to a goblin felt like battling the exact same “baddies” in intelligence and technique. When I go up against these creatures, I expect to feel as if the werewolf would behave like a werewolf, but instead all of the NPC’s were the same: predictable, sluggish,block and attack beasts. Even theboss battles lacked, the most noticeably bad ones, were all moments and ideas taken straight from, Shadow of the Colossus, and Shadow of the Colossus did it much better.
Asfor the story, it’s a typical revenge tale about how your wife was murdered and so on, but nice touch to the narrative is the wonderful voice acting of the great, Patrick Stewart. Though he can be a bit sappy and melodramatic, the dialogue fits and is well delivered. At the start of each level, during the loading screen, Patrick Stewart will fill you in while he observes his friend and comrade, Gabriel Belmont’s evolution into an emotionless killing machine, delving deeper and deeper into a path towards violence. The issue with this is that I felt the player was robbed of watching beautiful cut-scenes where they can actually follow the emotion and changes rather than be told how things are taking effect. The story book method of delivery was bland and exiled the viewer from participating on a personallevel. Without spoilers, the onlymoment I really found myself caring about Gabriel or anyone in the story, wasduring the very last cinematic after the final battle. Other than that, he seemed to have nopersonality or voice of his own as he trudged through battle after repetitivebattle.
Castlevania,has nothing truly original to bring to the action/adventure game, but that canbe blamed on the standards that have been enforced on developers after games like God of War and Devil May Cry. The graphics are beautiful, the character models are detailed, and the animations are executed well, but nothing shines through. The enemies are all the same, the bossfights are cliche, and the feeling that this is a Castlevania game falls awayafter the first six hours. However a sequel has already been given the green light and I believe they can make something great out of what Konami has begun to anew. This game is really left up to the individual, a lot ofpeople will love it as well as hate it.
+Great replay value
–The storybook loses the emotion, It needed more time with Belmont’s view
–Uninspired gameplay engine
7.0 out of 10.0
Author: Corey Bonanno, Special to CC2K
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